This lively and controversial collection of essays sets out to theorize and practice a ‘materialist-feminist’ criticism of literature and culture. Such a criticism is based on the view that the material conditions in which men and women live are central to an understanding of culture and society. It emphasises the relation of gender to other categories of analysis, such as class and race, and considers the connection between ideology and cultural practice, and the ways in which all relations of power change with changing social and economic conditions.
By presenting a wide range of work by major feminist scholars, this anthology in effect defines as well as illustrates the materialist-feminist tendency in current literary criticism. The essays in the first part of the book examine race, ideology, and the literary canon and explore the ways in which other critical discourse, such as those of deconstruction and French feminism, might be useful to a feminist and materialist criticism. The second part of the book contains examples of such criticism in practice, with studies of individual works, writers and ideas. An introduction by the editors situates the collected essays in relation both to one another and to a shared materialist/feminist project.
Feminist Criticism and Social Change demonstrates the important contribution of materialist-feminist criticism to our understanding of literature and society, and fulfils a crucial need among those concerned with gender and its relation to criticism.
Table of Contents
Contributors. Acknowledgements. Preface. Introduction: Toward a materialist-feminist criticism Judith Newton and Deborah Rosenfelt. Part 1: Theory 1. Toward a black feminist criticism Barbara Smith 2. Race and gender in the shaping of the American literary canon: a case study from the twenties Paul Lauter 3. Constructing the subject: deconstructing the text Catherine Belsey 4. Ideology and the cultural production of gender Michele Barrett 5. Writing the body: toward an understanding of l’ecriture feminine Ann Rosalind Jones Part 2: Applied Criticism 6. Villette Judith Newton 7. Aurora Leigh Cora Kaplan 8. Inverts and experts: Radclyffe Hall and the lesbian identity Sonja Ruehl 9. Shadows uplifted Barbara Christian 10. From the thirties: Tillie Olsen and the radical tradition Deborah Rosenfelt 11. Romance in the age of electronics: Harlequin Enterprises Leslie W. Rabine 12. Real Women Annette Kuhn. Index.